A boy encounters a robot from a lost age.
Chapter 1: Life in the Wastes (and a change from the norm)
Hizoran woke up as he usually does: with a large yawn.
“Nng...I think that's the best sleep I've had...ever,” Hizoran states.
He steps out of bed and grabs his outfit for the day and a towel, which was simply a reconstituted shirt In fact, his room, his hut, was built around an old aircraft carrier, and everything he used and/or wore had some sort of story attached it from either the present or the past. Hizoran walked out of his room and too the lake to wash off. The entire area around his hut and the lake was filled with war-torn ruins and links to a culture that seemingly no longer existed. Very few houses (whatever could pass for one during this time at least) were near his, and the ones that were were completed abandoned.
Once he is done, Hizoran dries off, gets dressed, and walks back inside. He then looks in his makeshift cabinets and refrigerator/freezer for something to eat.
“Let's see...I think I still have some fish from yesterday...”
He finds a salted fish in the back of the freezer and puts it on his custom designed stove. Hizoran had a knack for building and tinkering with machines, but even he always had a bit of trouble getting the stove to work (and work well). It was always a balancing act between burning his meal and leaving it frozen or raw. Thankfully, this was one of the rare days where his meal would be pleasing and edible. Once it was finished cooking, he poured himself a glass of water that seemed clean enough and sat down at the “table” with his meal.
“Itadakimasu!” Hizoran then dug into his fish.
He never quite understood the phrase “Itadakimasu,” but always said it anyways, as his parents told him to say that before each meal. The boy wasn't even sure they knew what it meant, however. Once he was finished, he cleaned off the dishes and was ready to go out to market and sell the scraps he scavenged yesterday.
“Let's hope these hunks of metal are worth the effort,” The boy put on his “armor,” placed his laser gun in its holster, grabbed the hunks of metal from yesterday's hunt, and put on his backpack before heading out to market.
The road ahead contained more ruins than before. These ruins were popular places for scavengers to either investigate or live in. Scavenging was no easy task, however, not only would one have to endure the elements and harsh terrain of various areas but also fight off other scavengers. However, fighting has simply become a way of life for most wasteland residents. In fact, there were many days where Hizoran would have to fight off many thugs. This was one of those days.
Halfway to the marketplace, Hizoran encountered three street thugs.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Hizoran,” the first thug taunted.
“Akura, I don’t want any trouble. I just want to pass by and get to the market,” Hizoran replied.
Akura scoffed at him.
“Not today. I see you’ve got some pretty rare stuff there.”
“Yeah, I think I see some pure steel in there and some gears with little to no rust,” The second thug quipped.
“We can’t just let you by without letting us take a peek,” The third thug commanded.
Hizoran was growing impatient. He didn’t want to get into an altercation with these goons, but it was starting to look like they weren’t going to give up so easily.
“Shiyou, Kai, please convince your ‘master’ Akura to let me pass. I know you just blindly follow his lead.”
Shinyou and Kai took offense to that statement.
“Boss, let’s get ‘im!” Shinyou yelled.
“I was just about to say that,” Akura smirked.
The three thugs then charged at Hizoran, who in response simply lowered himself and punched Akura in the gut.
“Hng!” Akura was stunned that this unimpressive looking teen was so strong.
Hizoran stood back up and punched Akura square in the face, pushing him down to the ground.
“Akura!” Kai yelled.
The other two then proceeded to throw a flurry of punches at him, but Hizoran easily dodged each punch, yawning as he did so. Once he saw an opening, he striked Shinyou in the chest, grabbed his shirt, and threw him into Kai, knocking them both down.
“You guys leave too many openings,” Hizoran stated, “Well, later.”
Hizoran continued walking to the marketplace, leaving the three thugs on the ground, groaning.
“K-Kisama!” Akura gasped.
Once at the marketplace, Hizoran proceeded over to the junk dealer and displayed his wares. The dealer examined each piece carefully.
“I must say, Hizoran, I’m impressed. You’ve grown a lot since we’ve started doing business,” the dealer stated.
“Shojin, do we really need to do this every time?” Hizoran was slightly blushing.
“What? Can’t a master reminisce about his pupil? I’ve known you since you were a small boy, you’re like family to me, kinda,” Shojin chuckled.
“Just tell me what you can give me for these.”
Shojin looked at the pieces again.
“I’d say about 60 yen for the steel and 10 for each gear. So, I’ll give you 110 yen.”
“110 yen? Last time, you gave me 200, and these are rarer pieces.”
“Sonny, it’s getting more and more expensive to run this operation each day, so I’m going to have to start decreasing the amount I can give you. Besides, it’s only a 90 yen difference. I’m sure you can make that up in no time,” He smiled.
Hizoran pondered over the deal for a moment and then sighed.
“I suppose it’s better than nothing.”
He handed over the wares and received 110 yen in exchange.
“We’re running out of yen pieces too, so that’s another thing to consider. It’s amazing there’s so many left after all this time, enough for us to know what they even are.”
“Shojin, there must be at least someone left from before the world became so crazy.”
The man stroked his beard and thought about it.
“If there are any, I’d wager they’re probably either feeble minded elders or deactivated robots,” He then made a realization.
“Of course! There’s bound to be a robot from before this hell still lying around!”
“Where would I find one?” Hizoran inquired.
“Your best bet is the old Tokyo Science Museum south of here. It’s a pretty long walk and could potentially be dangerous, but I know my little Hizo can handle it, right?”
Hizoran blushed heavily at that comment.
“Oops! Guess I got a little carried away.”
Hizoran simply stood there.
“Well, gambatte, Hizoran.”
“Gambatte,” Hizoran replied as he walked off.
Hizoran began his trek toward the science museum, fighting off any enemies along the way. There weren’t as many as he expected, but there were enough to almost veer him offcourse. The hot sun was baking him, however, so he decided to rest for a bit before realizing how close he was.
“I can see it!”
The museum’s exterior looked nearly intact, more so than many other buildings of its age. There were obviously remnants from a time when technology ruled the world that no longer worked, but he had a feeling that the power was still there, somehow. Cautiously, he walked towards the building and then inside.
“No sign of any bandits so far,” Hizoran remained cautious as he looked around.
Many of the exhibits were in serious disrepair. The main hall contained several models of various vehicles that were either broken, turned over, rusted, or simply missing. It was a miracle the building was still standing at all, however, as many of the support structures seemed virtually unfazed by the events that created this wasteland.
I’ve heard of earthquake proofing, but this is nuts, Hizoran thought.
Suddenly, he noticed a small capsule in the middle of the next room. He decided to take a closer look and examined it fully. Inside was a small robot the size of a nine year old child. The boy had jet black “hair” that stuck up on either side and was only wearing what looked to be a pair of underpants and a belt and red boots
What pervert designed this, Hizoran pondered.
He then noticed a plaque on the capsule and began to read it.
“Tetsuwan Atom...also known as Astro Boy...created in 2030 by then minister of science Dr. Umataro Tenma initially as a replacement for his deceased son, Tobio, Atom is a revolutionary robot that can think for itself. It contains “kokoro,” giving it a heart and soul like a human.”
Hizoran paused in his reading and looked at the robot.
“This boy has seen this world as it was many years ago. Not only that, but he experienced it like a human and not simply as data. His memories could give us a link to our pasts.”
Hizoran then found a switch on the boy’s capsule and pressed it, hoping it activate the robot. Alas, nothing happened.
“Tch...just another piece of junk. Well, I guess I can sell you for parts...or something.”
Hizoran turned away from the capsule to look for something to break the glass, when suddenly, he heard the whirs and hums of the machinery. The lights began to flicker until the power was fully on. Soon, a recording of a childlike voice played in the room.
“Hi, I’m Atom! Welcome to the Ministry of Science Museum. Inside you will find various displays of technological prowess, including me...well, maybe someday….” The recording went on to describe various exhibits and offers.
Soon, another recording played from the capsule itself. It was a more mature voice than before.
“Tetsuwan Atom….born April 7, 2030, willingly deactivated and put on display here on September 20, 2120. Atom was the first of his kind, a hero to all of us, and a great friend….”
Hizoran then turned around to see the glass on the capsule slowly lowering as a glow radiated from the boy’s tiny body. Soon, Atom’s eyes open as he was “reborn.” Hizoran simply stood there in awe.
“H-He’s alive!” Hizoran exclaimed.
Once the capsule was open, Atom slowly walked out, stumbling little. Hizoran couldn’t help but smile at this scene, as the robot continued to make its way toward Hizoran.
“O-Otou-san?” Atom asked.
Hizoran was confused at first,. Otou-san? What did that mean? He remembered hearing some of the local children say it often to their fathers, so that helped him deduced its meaning. Putting two and two together, Hizoran then realized that the robot probably lost its memory. He initially thought this rendered the robot useless, but decided he couldn’t just leave him here.
“Huh? I’m only 16, too young to be a dad. I guess I’m more like an older brother,” Hizoran replied
Atom smiled at this.
“Onii-chan!” Atom yelled as he hugged Hizoran’s waist.
What have I gotten myself into? Hizoran sighed and smiled.
“You’re Atom, right?”
Atom looked up at him and blinked.
“How’d you know my name?”
At least he still remembers his name, he thought.
“Um...well….you’re a pretty famous robot.”
“My name is Hizoran. Would you like to live with me?”
“Un!” Atom smiled.
“I guess that’s a yes.”
Hizoran and Atom then walked out of the museum and back to his hut. On the way, Atom looked around at how different Japan was compared to how it is in his memory banks.
“Is this Japan? It looks different than what I seem to recall.”
“Yeah, this strip of desert, ruins, and despair is Tokyo, Japan. I’ll tell you what happened when we get home.”
When they finally arrived at Hizoran’s “house,” he sat the boy down.
“Atom, do you know what year it is?”
The boy was searching its memory banks, some of which were still recovering as he struggled to find the answer.
“Um…the last year I can recall is 2120.”
The year he was deactivated, Hizoran remembered.
“Well, it’s been a long time since then. The year is 2370, more than 200 years after you were deactivated.”
Atom’s eyes became wide.
“Huh!?” The boy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Had he really been sleeping that long?
“This world was decimated by a large nuclear war that occurred 200 years ago. What you saw on the way here were ruins from your time and beyond. The world you knew...is gone.”
“Are there any humans left? Robots too?”
“There are still small outposts of human civilization, but not many robots. There are no robots as advanced as you as far I know, though.”
Atom began to process this information as more of his memory circuits came online, causing the boy to get a headache.
“Owwww,” Atom held his head.
“Atom, are you alright?” Hizoran was worried he gave the robot too much information at once.
His headache soon subsided and was replaced with exhaustion as he yawned. Hizoran smiled at the boy.
Atom nodded, laid his head in Hizoran’s lap, and fell asleep. He smiled at the boy.
“I guess it has been a long day, even though it’s only halfway over,” Hizoran yawned as well.
“Perhaps I should follow Atom’s example and rest my eyes for a bit.”
Hizoran closed his eyes and began to rest, reflecting on what had transpired in only a few hours.